Back to the USA, Blogging Ideas, & a Hymn on My Heart

Blog of Joy

Life has slowed down.

I’ve been home from Israel for a month now, and I find myself missing this blog, wanting to post about my experience there, and also wondering where this blog is headed.

Blog of Joy has changed a lot over the years. At first I wanted this blog to be a place where I could share all my creative endeavors (knitting patterns, writing, music, etc.). I had a lot of my knitting patterns and healthy recipes from my previous blogs transferred to this one. But over the past year or so, it mostly became focused on writing about life.

Now I see the blog going in a more creative direction with DIY ideas and crafts and recipes appearing much more often.

I imagine there will still be lots of posts about life and faith and joyfulness (or however one is supposed to summarize my random writings! ha ha!), because one of the best ways that I process life is through writing. This blog has helped me over the years to shape my ideas and figure out my feelings as I turned them from words to sentences to paragraphs. As I look back to posts that I wrote in years past, I see the transforming of a heart. And I see a future with a deeper longing for Yeshua. He is so patient and good to me.

photo from

No promises as to how often I’ll be posting, but I do hope to post more regularly.

There might be some more book reviews.

And of course, more about Israel. :)

Life is an adventure.

Blogging is an adventure.

I’m excited to see where it’s headed.

Micah 6:8

Something New: Cherry Tree Poet

Cherry Tree Poet

As I’ve mentioned before,  I’ve recently discovered a fascination for poetry.

I love the way that words sing and my heart sings along too.

I love free verse and rhyme.

I love long, well-crafted poems that leave me in awe of my Creator who spoke melodies and words and rhythms into existence.

And even though I know very little about poetry, I’m not going to let that stop me from trying my hand at it too.

Thus I have started the Cherry Tree Poet.

It’s my adventure into the world of poetry, and a journal of some of the random poems that I will write along the way. At the moment it seems that I’m only capable of short poems, but perhaps that’s the best place to start. So in addition to this blog, you can also find me happily scribbling little poems on the Cherry Tree Poet.

Here’s one of my favorites so far: Heart in the Sky

Heart in the Sky

How about you…Do you like writing poetry? What’s your favorite verse form?

For Love of Poetry

photo from
photo from

At some point this last year I discovered a love for poetry .

A poem can be so simple–sometimes only a few lines long–and yet it can leave me speechless.

What is it like to have a baby
Fall asleep while holding your finger?
It is a soft, precious touch.
It is relaxing, yet exciting.
It is a feeling of trust and importance.
It is so soothing it makes me want to
Fall asleep.
It is a sign of peace and love.
What is it like to have a baby
Fall asleep while holding your finger?
It is a great gift from Heaven.
–Mattie J.T. Stepanek 1999

Sometimes a poem says what my heart would say, if it could speak so freely, and sends my heart spinning with joy.

I love poems that bring me closer to God and remind me of the truths in the Bible.

I love Psalms.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me.
–Psalm 23

I love the melody that words sing and the way that my heart beats along with them.

I love poetic prose.

It is slowly dawning on me
that I did not get to God by Nature,
like the poet,
but that I have got to Nature by God.
Nature is more and more a sacrament to me,
I mean the real presence of God comes to me
in the common elements
of earth and air,
the sea and sky and moon,
and human love and friendship.
–Oswald Chambers 1916

I love my Creator who gives me my love for words.

He is the purest poetry.

How about you…Do you love poetry? What’s one of your favorite poems?

Writers, Artists, & Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Remember last year when I started the Thankfulness Journal?

Setting out to write 10,000 things that I’m thankful for was quite an endeavor. I’ve yet to reach that ambitious goal, but thankfulness lives on in my heart.

Here are some joyful things from this week:

Meeting Fellow Writers & Artists—This week I had the privilege of attending a three day writers’ workshop taught by Renee Andrews. She is an excellent speaker and so inspiring.  It was wonderful to connect with fellow writers and artists in my community and share our nerdy love for the printed word.

Shannon @ Unfading Joy—I love her entire blog, but especially her post for this week. It resonated with my soul.

Cherry Blossoms—The large cherry tree in my backyard is in full bloom and showering the grass with white petals.

Mason Clover Music—I love the way that he weaves scripture verses and Hebrew into his songs. It reminds me of Revive Conferences where I first heard Clover sing and where I’ve made so many wonderful memories with friends.

How about you…What are you thankful for this week?

For Love of Pen & Paper

photo from
photo from

Recently I’ve discovered a love for pen and paper.

There’s something delightful about sitting down with a notebook in hand and filling page after page with rambling ideas and stories. A fresh sheet of paper is full of so many possibilities. Here are some of the perks of writing by hand:

  • You get to watch the letters swirl on the paper. (Perhaps this isn’t as enjoyable if you write as sloppily as I do sometimes.)
  • It’s typically slower, so you can think more about what you’re writing. (This is particularly helpful for me when I’m writing in my journal.)
  • It can make you smarter. (Researchers have discovered that writing by hand works your brain differently than typing.)
  • It’s more personal. (Your handwriting is your own unique style. The way you write can show your mood and a bit of your personality.)

I suppose I’m old-fashioned and sentimental, but I can’t help but find handwritten letters and journals to be far superior to digital ones. And as much as I love e-mailing and typing, there’s nothing quite like the good old-fashioned pen and paper.

Even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me — more promising than a silver cloud, and prettier than a red wagon.
—E.B. White

How about you? Do you enjoy writing by hand?

Favorite Stories of 2014


Behold the Dawn

1. Behold the Dawn by K.M. Weiland–An epic tale of justice and mercy set during the Third Crusades.

Long Fatal Love Chase


2. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott–A tragic suspense romance.

 Me & Georgette

3. Me & Georgette by D.B. Schaefer–A fun and unusual romance combining time travel, Judaism, and Regency England.

Biography & Memoir

Kisses From Katie

1. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis–A story of relentless love and complete devotion.


2. Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III–The hilarious and inspiring story of one of America’s first modern homeschool families.

Strawberry Point

3. Strawberry Point by Florence Roe Wiggins—A delightful collection of memoir vignettes celebrating old-fashioned America.

What are some of your favorite stories of 2014?

5 Things I’m Thankful For

Conquering NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo 2014

Conquering NaNoWriMo–Because writing 50,000 words in one month is tough and rewarding. Now it’s time to delve into structuring and outlining my novel, and I’m actually excited about that, which is quite surprising.

Krav Maga–Because it’s the best martial art in the world (although I am a bit biased). I’m thankful that I’ve been learning Krav Maga for two years now and still haven’t had any major injuries. (But there’s definitely been plenty of scrapes and bruises along the way.)

Blots & Plots Blog–Because Jenny inspires me and reminds me that writing can be a ton of fun.

Senior Year of High School–Because it’s exciting to know that graduation is near. It’s like breaking into a sprint when I see the finish line in sight, trying to pack in the extra credits and finishing with a personal best (or something like that).

“Show Jesus” by Jamie Grace–Because it’s fun and happy and makes me want to smile. And smiling is good.

What are you thankful for?

November’s Challenge

My trusty little writing laptop

Did you know that November is the National Novel Writing Month?

Hundreds of thousands of writers join the challenge each year of drafting a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

This year I’m joining the NaNoWriMo challenge. I’m looking forward to letting my imagination fly as I attempt to write 50,000 more words for the novel I’m drafting.


I’ve got to forget the delete button. Forget perfectionism. Forget laziness.

And just write. Write. Write.

I’m excited.

How about you? Do you have any goals for this upcoming month?


Photo from
Photo from

I’ve started another rough draft of my novel (the third one, to be exact). For the past two months I haven’t had the discipline and initiative to work on it consistently. I’ve only written about 10,000 words on this new draft, but I could have written so much more by now. There’s always something else to get done. I’m a high school senior, and as much as I want to write this book, school is still more important (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

But blaming my busy schedule is a sorry excuse. In the seventeen years that I’ve spent on this earth, I’ve learned that if I want to have time for something, I usually find time for it. Most of my excuses are just excuses for laziness. And as a writer, laziness is my archenemy. It produces nothing. It benefits no one. It kills art.

So I pray a quick prayer before I sit down reluctantly to type out another chapter in the book. I pray for inspiration and help, because most of the time it just isn’t there. Even though I wholeheartedly want to write this book, most of the time I don’t feel like putting in the effort that it requires.

Which leads me to a big question:

Why am I writing this novel?

If I’m writing this novel because I feel like it, then I better stop right now. This book isn’t about me feeling fulfilled or accomplished. It’s not about seeing my name on the front cover (even though that will be amazing). It’s not about me; and sometimes that’s a hard thing for us writers to grasp. I’m writing for a higher cause–something beyond myself. There’s a voice in my head that tells me to keep writing. It tells me that this story has purpose, that it’s important somehow, and that it would be wrong for me to abandon the narrative.

That voice is hope.

Hope is my motivation, even when completing the novel seems almost impossible. Hope assures me that all these countless hours and crazy ideas and thousands of words will someday blossom into a novel, and that novel will in turn blossom the hearts of readers.

It’s this hope that propels us all into the future. We don’t all write novels, but we all face challenges. We all have to fight against laziness. We all have to push through the resistance in our heads telling us to quit.

We all need hope.

That hope comes from above, from our loving Father who gives us the courage to do great things. All we have to do is accept it, allow it to fill our hearts and minds, and let it guide us through the struggles. It’s not always easy. But it is simple.

It’s time to embrace hope.

What do you say?

Annie Dillard: The Writing Life

Annie Dillard

After reading a recommendation for the book “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard, I was delighted to find it at the library in town. But that delight soon turned to disappointment.

I didn’t like the book. The first chapter was fine, and the fifth chapter was good, but most of it annoyed me. If the book hadn’t been so small (just over a hundred pages), I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Annie Dillard’s worldview is largely reflected in the book, and that worldview–namely transcendentalism–I found highly depressing. A sense of hopelessness ran through it, as if she is constantly searching for reality. Every once in a while there would be a burst of hope in a paragraph, but then it would vanish.

That being said, Annie Dillard is a talented writer, and her prose is literary and poetic. Despite the fact that I don’t endorse the book, I did learn some helpful tips from it.

Don’t be afraid to reject unnecessary writing–Your writing is not for yourself. It’s for others to read. If something is not enhancing the story for your reader, scrap it.

Craft each sentence–A sentence is not just a string of words. It is music. Each word is a note that creates a melody. When we look at a sentence that way, we suddenly respect it more, and realize how much of an art form it is.

Write as if to terminal patients (because everyone is)–Sooner or later, everyone on this planet is going to die. That is reality. As writers we need to write something that is worth people’s time–something that makes a positive influence on the world.

What you read is what you write–In other words, read good books.

I suppose this is an odd review, giving a book a two-star rating and then sharing the things I like about it. But just like most things in life, there’s always a silver lining.